Chad Mueller from Oregon State University presented the results of his research into Jersey beef production following the National All-Jersey Inc. annual meeting in Syracuse, N.Y. “Feedlots often place Jersey steers in a ‘dairy’ pen with Holsteins,” Mueller explained, “and the Jerseys end up being overfed.” His research investigated calf-fed steers raised on diets with two different energy levels in an attempt to identify some of the unique aspects of Jersey beef production.

Steers began the experiment at four months of age and were fed for about 400 days. Feed intake was recorded daily; weight and skeletal growth were measured monthly. During the finishing phase, ultrasound was used to record changes in backfat depth, marbling and muscle depth. At harvest carcass weight, backfat, ribeye area, kidney-pelvic-heart fat and USDA quality and yield grades were evaluated. Calves were categorized as light (average initial body weight 170 pounds) or heavy (average initial body weight 213 pounds) before the trial began.

Calves that were heavier at the start of the experiment out-performed lighter calves. Total days on feed were 11 days shorter, and final body weight was 76 pounds greater for heavy calves. Heavy calves also had more backfat and marbling and earned a higher yield grade than light calves. At about 14 months, steers stopped storing body protein and started storing core body fat, which is all trim, indicating the best opportunity for growth is early in life.

Mueller concluded that Jersey steers had a high propensity for marbling and could be expected to produce high-quality carcasses grading choice or better. Dressing percentage was 57 percent, which means that animals will need to be fed to about 1,050 pounds of live weight to ensure a 600-pound hot carcass weight. In order to reach that weight, feeders must accept feed conversion efficiency and average daily gains lower than those typical for beef breeds, particularly during finishing.

Source: Dairy Calf and Heifer Association